SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – The fourteenth-ranked UC Santa Barbara men's volleyball team secured its fifth straight victory on Saturday night at Rob Gym with a convincing sweep of No. 10 Ball State. Set scores were 25-13, 25-17, 25-19.
UCSB (9-5) handily outhit the visiting Cardinals (11-9) .329 to .071 and dominated the serve-and-pass battle, out-acing BSU 8-0 and converting on 76% of their sideout opportunities compared to just 50% for Ball State.
"Serving was really the key for us tonight," said UCSB head coach Rick McLaughlin. "Ball State is a good team but we were able to keep them out of system for most of the night and take advantage of the fact that they've played a lot of matches this week."
UCSB was led on offense by sophomore opposite and reigning Big West Player of the Week Keenan Sanders, who had a match-high 14 kills on .375 hitting. Sophomore setter Randy DeWeese paced the Gauchos from the service line with four aces though junior middle blocker Connor Drake and junior outside hitter Corey Chavers had especially strong nights in that department as well.
Ball State made wholesale lineup changes as the match went on, and ended up being led by Matt Szews's seven kills over two sets.
UCSB absolutely dominated in the first set, outhitting the Cardinals .417 to .071 behind strong performances from Sanders (five kills on seven swings) and DeWeese (10 assists, three aces). Ball State was only able to get one point off the serve the entire game, with the Gauchos using long service runs of their own from Chavers and DeWeese to open up leads of 8-4 and 18-8, respectively.
The Gauchos played similarly well in the second set, swinging at a .345 clip and opening up an early 6-1 lead. The Gauchos really put their foot on the gas pedal with a 5-0 run behind the jump float serve of Connor Drake put the Gauchos up 21-10, and that cushion proved useful as the Cardinals were able to win repel four consecutive set points at the end before a long serve from Courtland Scharenbor put the Gauchos up 2-0.
The Cardinals put up their toughest fight in the third, even leading as late as 9-8, but ended up being undone by their own attacking errors, making eight en route to a match-low -.067 hitting percentage for the set. The Gauchos helped them along with 2.5 blocks in the frame to wrap up the sweep.
UCSB returns to action next week with a home-and-home series against No. 1 Long Beach State, traveling to the Pyramid on Thursday night before hosting the 49ers at Rob Gym on Friday night.